Tag Archives: desserts

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photo use by permission from the-baker-chick.com
photo use by permission from the-baker-chick.com

I am all about making things easier.  I like good food, but only on special occasions will I pull out a "fancy" recipe.  And by "fancy" I mean a recipe that calls for more than 8 ingredients and takes two or more pages to explain.  Most days, I cook simple food in the simplest way possible.

Which brings me to these Strawberry & Cream Napoleans from The Baker Chick.

But first, let's talk about The Baker Chick herself.  Her name is Audra and I'm not sure how I stumbled onto her site but wow am I glad that I did! She makes the yummiest food and her site is just darling.  She's a NYC blogger with a passion for baking. You can read more about Audra here.

So back to the napoleans.... I have a serious, intense dislike for those strawberry shortcake "cups" that you find in the supermarket.  You know, the ones that are flat on the bottom, indented on top, dry as a cardboard box and have zero flavor. They should just call them Cardboard-cakes.  Dis-like.

I normally solve this problem one of two ways:  pound cake or angel food cake.  Sometimes I make my own but both can usually be found in the bakery section of my grocery store, right next to the cardboard-shortcakes.  I especially like to get the chocolate pound cake.  Ohhhhh, chocolate pound cake...strawberries...fresh whipped cream... that is good stuff.

But I'm always on the lookout for an update to my good 'ole standbys and I'm certain I've found it in this recipe.

Audra substitutes flakey, crispy puff pastry for the cardboard-cakes, layers it with strawberries and whipped cream then dusts it all with powdered sugar.  Since I'm pretty lazy when it comes to baking, I will use store bought puff pastry, a perfectly fine substitution according to Audra.  I always top my strawberry shortcake with a sprinkle of nutmeg so I'll add that as well.

Is your mouth watering?  Mine is!

Hop on over to the-baker-chick.com to see the full recipe!

We are in the full swing of summer, I hope you are eating fresh and yummy things!

photo by King Arthur Flour Company

So... I'm not really into Halloween.  First of all, I grew up out in the boon-docks where the only trick-or-treaters we saw was my little cousin Jill who lived a mile down the road.  We never even bought Halloween candy, because God forbid we would ever consume any processed sugar.  But my mom, always the hostess, made sure to make a small batch of cookies for Jill when she showed up in her costume.  Not that I ever got to eat any of them.  I'm not bitter.

Secondly, I find it all a bit too much.  I don't watch scary movies and I don't really enjoy looking at "ugly stuff" (witches, zombies, bloody hands, etc.), so a whole day of celebrating it is just too much for me. And since we didn't celebrate Halloween at home (for religious reasons) there's not even a nostalgic significance for me.  So generally, I pass.

And then there's Dia De Los Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead.  My brain tends to put that in a different category than Halloween because at least it is about celebrating the lives of the ancestors.  The irony is not lost on me, don't worry.

Admittedly, I find some of the artwork fascinating and while I didn't grow up celebrating Dia De Los Muertos either, it is a Mexican tradition and so for illogical reasons, I am more tolerant of it.

So what does all this have to do with our Friday Recipe?  I will tell you...

Thanks to the internet being flooded with Halloween recipes right now, I ran across this recipe from King Arthur Flour that at first caught my attention because of the shape of the cookies:  bones.  Not something you see every day.  Then I scrolled down and saw that they were made with almond flour and almond extract and I was sold.  I just adore almond extract, it makes me happy.  In fact, I have been using Amaretto flavored coffee creamer in my coffee all this week.

This recipe is really easy: basically mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, roll out the dough into "snakes", crimp the ends to look like bones, let them sit overnight and bake.  So easy! Of course, you could make them into any shapes you wanted, or no special shapes at all and they will be just as yummy.

Coincidentally, they link to another recipe for Almond Cloud Cookies that are even more appealing to me because it requires almond paste, which makes me go weak in the knees. They describe them as "Chewy-crisp and intensely almond-y."  Ummm, yes please!

So there you have it, 2 cookie recipes for your weekend.  Whip up a batch, brew a little coffee, and relax.  Or dress up like Lady Gaga and go door-to-door begging your neighbors for candy.  Your choice.

Ossi di Morto (Bone of the Dead) Cookies via King Arthur Flour: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2012/10/26/bones-of-the-dead/

Almond Cloud Cookies via King Arthur Flour: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/almond-cloud-cookies-recipe

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Until I was in my 20's I did not know that most pie crusts were made out of shortening or butter.  There was only one recipe for pie crust in my mother's recipe box and it was for this recipe right here that I'm going to share with you today.  The recipe is my Great-Grandmother Pat's recipe and she did not use shortening or butter in her pie crust; she used vegetable oil.  I have no idea why.  Maybe it was a Great Depression thing.  Maybe it was a Polish thing. Maybe it was a preference thing.  I just don't know.  What I do know is that every time I make this crust I can hear my grandma's voice, see her knobby fingers and smell her house.

I have introduced you to my Great-Grandma Pat before:

She's the lovely bride and that handsome gentleman sitting next to her is my Great-Grandpa Pat.  Her full name was Antonia Cecilia Smith (Smigkelski) but she went by Annette because she hated being called "Antonia."  I think it was too "ethnic" to her.  I love it.  She was always "Grandma Pat" to me and I loved visiting her house in Gridley, CA where she always had 2 things waiting for me to nibble on: egg custards in the fridge and spice cookies on the counter.  I'm still trying to figure out the spice cookie recipe, I think my Grandma Shirley is holding out on me.

One recipe I do have tucked safely away in my stash is the recipe for her pie crust.  So let's get to it:

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The ingredient list is simple (makes one 9in. crust):

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup milk (I've always used whole milk)

The directions couldn't be any easier either:

  • Dump everything in a bowl
  • Mix until forms into a solid ball of dough
  • Starting from the middle working out, roll out into at least 9" pie crust, place in pie plate and using a fork poke holes all over the inside to keep it from puffing up while baking.
  • Bake at 450 degrees, 10-12 minutes, until edges are golden brown

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Now, let me give you a couple of tips:

  • My Grandma Shirley (Annette's daughter) informed me this weekend that she never uses this recipe because it always crumbles on her.  True, it is not as silky or soft as a traditional pie crust.  The vegetable oil does a good job of providing the fat to make it flaky but it does not make this crust "smooth".  It may crack or crumble while you are working with it and that's ok.  Take a deep breath, everything is going to work out, I promise.  This weekend I made 2 crusts and it seemed to me that the first one came together with the least amount of breakage so it may be that working quickly will help you get the pie into the pan all in one piece.
  • This crust may stick a little to the counter or cutting board, as most crusts do.  The best way to transfer it to the pan, I found, is to use a spatula or bench scraper to peel it up and gently fold it into 4ths like the picture above.  Plop it in your pie plate and carefully unfold it.  Voila!  Of course, I could have sprinkled a little flour before I started rolling out the dough, but I forgot.  And it all worked out anyway.  See?  Cooking isn't scary.  It all works out somehow.
  • Even if it cracks (and it probably will crack at least a bit), this dough is very forgiving and meant to be very rustic.  Just take a chunk of excess dough &  "repair" the crack.  Squish and press it back into the shape you need it to be, most of it is going to be covered with filling anyway.
  • Although very similar to a traditional shortening pie crust, this pie has a tiny bit more heft to it so I try to roll it out as thin as possible, just keeping the edges a smidge thicker.  If you roll the crust out "thick" it will taste "thick".  And that may be what you prefer, just be forewarned.

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I have to stop here and point out the brilliance of my new cutting board from.... wait for it... Walmart!

It's from the Paula Deen line, no less, but I saw it months ago and debated whether or not to get it.  When I went back to pick up some extra pie plates this weekend I decided it must come home with me.  I gotta tell you, I love this new cutting board!  It's a darker, acacia wood which I appreciate much more than the lighter colored boards.  But the selling point was that engraved onto one side of the board are measurements for 6,8,9 & 10 in. rounds as well as a 14 in. straight edge. It took out all the guesswork when I rolled out my pie dough.  I knew I had rolled far enough when I got the 9 in. border line.  Infomercial complete.

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My pie crusts were beautiful and tasty and easy and... well, awesome.  Don't judge my crimping skills, I never was able to master the "pie crimp" and this dough doesn't lend easily to it anyway. People know it's a homemade pie when they see edges that ugly and somehow they love you a little more for it.

Yes, I feed people to get them love me.  There was a lot of love going around this weekend.

PS: Stay tuned for Friday when I share the recipe for the yummy filling!

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I have hit the floor running every day this week and that means that you are regrettably getting a drive-by recipe today. You don't mind, right?

My buddy Serena (aka: Wonder Twin) discovered this recipe on Pinterest and posted it to our "Did It/Made It" board. I really want to try it because

  1. I have no spare time right now. None.
  2. I love dessert. Nay, I NEED dessert.
  3. I have family members with food allergies and this quick cake is gluten, dairy and sugar free. Yippee!!
  4. Even if it's a total flop (which I don't think it will be), you've only lost 2 minutes of your day and pennies in ingredients. Totally worth a shot!

The recipe is from ATX Gluten Free and you can substitute your favorite gluten-free baking mix, which for me is currently Cup-4-Cup from Chef Thomas Keller. My sister has been using it on all our favorite family recipes and having some great results!

Looking at my calendar, I should have 2 minutes to myself... in November. Maybe I can make this cake then. I hope you have some time this weekend to try this little dessert!!

Don't forget to check out some other "Did It/Made It" ideas from our Pinterest Board and share a few of your own!!